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Laramie Movie Scope:
Monsters, Inc.

Monsters face frightful energy shortage

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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November 5, 2001 -- "Monsters, Inc." is a clever animated feature about the monsters that live in children's closets, and what they are really after.

According to the story, the monsters are just doing their job, scaring kids in order to use the energy from their screams to power the monster's world. The main characters are a one-eyed walking green orb named Mike Wazowski (voice by Billy Crystal of "Analyze This"), and James P. 'Sulley' Sullivan (voice by John Goodman of "One Night at McCool's"). Sulley, assisted by Mike, is closing in on the all-time scream record. His closest rival is the chameleon-like lizard Randall Boggs (voice by Steve Buscemi) of "Domestic Disturbance." When Sulley finds Randall cheating one night, he accidentally releases a child, Boo (Mary Gibbs) into the world of the monsters, causing all kinds of trouble.

Monsters, Inc. is where the monsters work, a vast place with millions of high-tech doors which serve as portals to the world of children. The doors are stored in automated racks like the motorized racks at a dry cleaning shop. Sulley, Mike and the other monsters believe that children are toxic, so they are afraid of Boo at first, but soon they become friends. The basic problem is that they would like to return Boo to her home, but that's complicated. They also have other problems to deal with.

The story is pretty light, not exactly aimed at adults. It doesn't quite have the emotional resonance of earlier films like "Beauty and the Beast" or the "Toy Story" films. There are some cinematic references, however, that are aimed at adults. One refers to a restaurant which seems to be named after Ray Harryhausen, a long time Hollywood actor, director, producer, animator and special effects wizard. Harryhausen produced visual effects for such films as "The Golden Voyage of Sinbad," and "Clash of the Titans." There are also some references to other films, including other Pixar films like "Toy Story 2." Like those films, this one has dazzling computerized images. Sulley's luxurious coat of hair looks very real.

Goodman and Crystal are both very effective in their speaking roles and the characters are memorable, including spidery company boss Henry J. Waternoose (voice by James Coburn of "Affliction") and Mike's girlfriend Celia (voice by Jennifer Tilly). There are some good sight gags and jokes, like the street crossing signs that say "Stalk" or "Don't Stalk." Despite all the monsters, there's nothing much to upset the kids. The computer animation is very good and the visuals are imaginative. This is a pleasant, amusing and entertaining film. Another short Pixar film is playing with this one called "For the Birds." It is also entertaining, and actually funnier than the main feature. Near the end of the credits there's a note which adds: "No monsters were harmed during the making of this film." There's also a very good Randy Newman song over the closing credits. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2001 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)